Saturday, May 3, 2008

The Noose

I had this very weird dream last night. Some of the details are a bit hazy. It may take me a while to work through this.

I was someone else in this dream - not me. I need to make that clear. It was a very different time. I
'm pretty sure this dream wasn't set in modern-day. For one thing, the "racial difference" was very set in it's way - there was the order of the races and sex: White men, white women, black men, black women. But also, everyone dressed differently. Women wore dresses. Cars were different - boxier - and there weren't as many of them around. Cars were a sign of status. I was in a small-town and status was important. The most important man in town was white; he had a butter-yellow car. All the other white men looked up to him; all the black men feared him. He was a pompous prick; a jackass to everyone who didn't show him the respect he felt he deserved. I was terrified of him.

I was African-American. I had on a cream-colored dress with pale yellow flowers. I also wore a stained white apron. My hair was cropped short; at one point in the dream, I stood in front of a mirror (which was weird because my face still looked like me, only it was black) and wished for long hair. I wanted it because of this guy - I liked him but he couldn't like me back. I knew he liked long hair, so I wished that I had pretty long blond hair like his sister, so I could attract him - even though it would've been futile. I wasn't white and this was a world where white married white and black married black.

I walked through the woods in my down-time; it was the only place I could go and not be expected to do shit for someone else. I hated myself - I really, really hated who I was and wished that I had been born different (white). I wanted to be someone that this guy could love. And sometimes, I would run into this guy there - oh, I can't really talk about him. I just can't. I don't know where to begin. He was beautiful - gorgeous. Same height as me - the other men picked on him for being short because it was back in the day when men needed to be tall and powerful, but I liked that he was the same height as me. He had the most beautiful hazel eyes - so deep and full of expression. He was the artist sort, if that makes sense - thoughtful, creative, and entirely out of his element. Men weren't supposed to be like that. I had this hope that maybe he was biracial, because his hair was dark, but it was just a dream because I wanted him so much. I wanted him to be okay with me being black, ya know? He was poor too - he worked for the man with the butter-yellow car. His dad wasn't around - it was a disgraceful thing that no one talked about, but it made him "man of the house" and he needed the job to support his mom and siblings. I don't think he liked the man with the butter-yellow car, but he had to respect him because he needed the job. He couldn't afford to be who he wanted to be.

He was nice to me, but not overly friendly. Not like, I wanna fall madly in love with you. Just nice, out of general politeness. But I would take these walks, hoping to meet up with him because he took long walks too. I couldn't speak to him in town - it wasn't proper. When I did meet up with him, it thrilled me to death. I would go back to the house - a white farmhouse - and into my room - a small, cramped space in the attic - and do things...I don't know how to describe this. I was praying to God - the Christian one - but I was doing things very pagan. I was taking the flowers that I'd picked when I met him and using them to ask God to give me this guy. It was weird and I can't explain it any better than that.

Anyhow, something bad happened in the town. I'm not sure what occurred - I was just a lowly servant at this farmhouse and no one told me the gossip. It was a "man thing" and I was a woman - I don't know how to explain it. I wanted to know what happened, because it involved this guy I liked, but if I asked questions, I was told to shut up and mind my own business.

The man with the yellow car decided that something had to be done to offset whatever had occurred. I think this man with the butter-yellow car may have been insane. He decided that they had to leave an offering, like their old Norse ancestors. He decided, after much debate, that the offering should be someone who wouldn't be missed. He ruled out all the white girls because they were white (which made them important). Somehow, I was chosen to be the offering because I was odd - quiet and, while handy around the house, not extremely useful for anything in particular. Not like the cooks and whatnot. Also, I didn't sleep with any of the white men - I think that had something to do with me being chosen too. Some of the other black servants did sleep with the white men - even had babies with them - but they were ruled out because the men liked their "fun."

A gang of men came to the white farmhouse and dragged me out to the woods. The man with the yellow car stood on a plywood box and gave a speech - I can't remember his exact words but they implied that my death was a "cleansing" of the town. The man I liked wasn't with the gang at this point; he showed up in the middle of this speech. His eyes met mine - he didn't like this business, didn't like what was happening, but he couldn't speak up.

I heard a white man tell someone that the man I liked had voted against the cleansing - he said, "Should we do something about that, afterwards?" He nodded towards me.

The man he was speaking to shrugged, said, "Nah. This is supposed to be a cleansing. We have to let it go or the cleansing hasn't happened."

The man I liked wouldn't speak up to save me. He looked at me, with resigned eyes, and I realized that he couldn't fight these men so I gave in. I didn't fight as they slipped the noose over my head. I didn't cry. I didn't do anything. I let them lynch me - and as I was choking, I thought, Don't struggle, don't gasp. Don't do anything embarrassing in front of this man. Just die with grace and dignity. Let him remember that about me.

That's when I woke up. What the hell?

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